Operation Broken Heart Leads to Nearly 1,700 Arrests
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this week that Internet Crimes Against Children task forces around the country have led to the arrests of nearly 1,700 suspected child sex predators. The 61 task forces, located in all 50 states and comprised of more than 4,500 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, coordinated the operation called “Broken Heart” throughout April and May 2019.
According to a DOJ release, during the two-month operation, task forces investigated over 18,500 complains of technology facilitated crimes against children. Of the 1,700 arrests, 308 offenders either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse.
The task force also focused on assistance for 357 children who suffered recent, ongoing, or historical sexual abuse or exploitation.
Along with investigative work, the task forces conducted more than 2,150 presentations on internet safety to over 201,000 youth and adults.
"The sexual abuse of children is repugnant, and it victimizes the most innocent and vulnerable of all," Attorney General William P. Barr said. "We must bring the full force of the law against sexual predators, and with the help of our Internet Crimes Against Children program, we will… I would like to thank our Office of Justice Programs, all of the task force members, and especially the state and local partners who helped us achieve these important results. We are committed to bringing the defendants in these cases to justice and protecting every American child."
The operation targeted suspects who produce, distribute, receive, and possess child pornography; engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; engage in the sex trafficking of children; and travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children.
The program was formed under the department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the Office of Justice Programs. While Operation Broken Heart was a recent initiative, the program has existed since 1998 to identify the nexus between child exploitation and technology.
Over the last 20 years, the task forces have investigated 922,000 complaints of child exploitation which have resulted in more than 95,500 arrests. More than 708,500 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases.
The Internet Crimes Against Children program also holds a national conference, going on now.
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